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October 17, 2010 posted by Christina

Guest Post by Lara Morgan

To promote the release of  Genesis by Lara Morgan, the first book in the Rosie Black Chronicles, yaReads is very proud to be part of the Lara Morgan blog tour.

Heroines in Young Adult Fiction

When I was in my early teens one of my favourite heroines was a girl called Trixie Belden. She was a teenage sleuth who had short strawberry blonde hair and lived in America where it always seemed to be sunny and people played a lot of tennis. Trixie was always investigating something. She was constantly involved in mysteries which she had to solve with the help of her family and friends. Many times they were dangerous, but she was smart and intrepid and even though she did sometimes mess up, she usually managed to get herself out of trouble and save the day. To me Trixie was the coolest girl on the planet. She wasn’t perfect, she didn’t always get it right but she had guts and I loved that about her. I read as many of her books as I could get my hands on.

That was the early 80s. Of course there still was an element of sexism around; Trixie’s brothers sometimes behaved like 1960s ad men who knew everything, but Trixie herself was still a go-getter. She didn’t wait to be rescued, she could rescue herself.

It’s been said that that type of heroine isn’t around enough anymore. I’ve heard complaints that there are too many books with heroines whose sole purpose seems to be achieving/keeping the love of a boy, but I’m wondering if that’s actually true or if it’s just a perception that’s arisen due to the success of Twilight.

Debates rages over Bella and her boys. We love her. We despise her. We compare her with characters in more recent novels, such as The Hunger Games, and find her lacking and we worry she’s a bad role model for girls today who will start believing a boy creeping into your room to watch you sleep is romantic not creepy.

I think this is a mistake and that we are all a bit smarter than that. I also think that Twilight, along with similar forbidden love romances that have been inspired by it, is a fantasy that plenty of people like to get lost in but not necessarily believe in.

And I don’t think there aren’t enough alternatives for those who want to read about girls doing something other than falling in love. I think it is actually in film, tv and music videos where the positive representation of young women is lacking. That medium is littered with girls as gossip hungry, vacuous boy hungry air heads or overly sexualized gyrating dancers clinging to male singers. Heroines in books are providing some of the better role models really when you look at it that way.

I’ve read plenty of books recently with a female lead who faces desperate situations and overcomes them. Yes there is often a boy and romance involved and there is a focus on gaining his love, but there is also a heavy focus on the girl’s own journey.  The Guardian of the Dead, The Hunger Games, Holly Black’s Modern Faerie Tales, The Mortal Instruments, and Claudia Gray’s Evernight series just to name a few are some of the more recent heroine driven works which feature girls who make their own choices, good and bad, despite the love interest of the storyline. So I don’t think we can say there aren’t enough good heroines in books. They’re not perfect, but they are there and it is those types of books, as well as the formative influence of those Trixie Beldens that have inspired me during the creation of Rosie Black.

I wanted a character who was independent, smart and courageous but one who was also flawed, a girl who doesn’t always make the right choices and who can love a boy but still follow her own path. A character who is real. That, I think, is the crux of what we want to see more of in our heroines and I think we are getting there.

A big thank you to Lara! Genesis is available in store in Australia and online for international readers.

Next stop on the tour: ‘The Boy in this story; creating male characters in heroine driven YA.’ @ The Phantom Paragrapher

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2 Comments

  • Hooray for strong, independent (if sometimes flawed) heroines! In the best tradition of the Cinderella tales that had no need of a prince, a fairy godmother or magical creatures to save her.

  • Great post, Lara and Christina.

    I really like Rosie’s character and enjoyed reading more about her.

    Love your blog too, Christina:)

    Dee

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